As my fellow Brock students whine and gripe about the cost of parking passes and the walk from free parking to Thistle, a persecuted transit minority gets left sitting at the sidelines with no one looking out for our interests. It is a rarity for my fellow bus riders and I to publicly complain about the infrequent service to and from campus and the smell that seems to permeate all the vehicles owned by St. Catharines Transit. Instead we sit and fume in silence, hoping that someday, some hero will come to our aid and improve our sorry lot.Well, if one is to believe the most recent statements coming out of Queen’s Park, the saviour of mass transit in Ontario may be coming in the unlikely form of Premier Mike Harris. On Thursday, Sept. 27, Harris, a long time enemy of mass-transit and the man whose government made transit a municipal responsibility, said that “a modern, strong, integrated transit system is key to our vision.” He then promised that the province would invest $3 billion in mass transit over ten years. He said the motivation for the change in policy was an “unexpected” population growth, although cynics might say that it had more to do with his approval rating, which is at an all-time low.
Regardless of the motivation behind it, this announcement no doubt had many of my fellow strap-hangers jumping for joy.
But before we gather at the transit terminal for a Dionysian celebration, it’s worth pointing out that there are a few specifics that Harris forgot to mention.
At no point during his announcement did Harris say how much of the $3 billion would go to individual municipalities and how much would be allocated for the inter-city GO Train system. Nor, for that matter, did he say when the money would actually start rolling in. One hopes that this promise isn’t dependent on a Tory victory in the 2003 provincial elections.
Until Harris’ mythical dough appears, we non-drivers will be fantasizing about the early 1900s, the heyday of mass transit in Niagara, when a series of electric trolleys spanned from Grimsby to the U.S. border.
— Chris Dart is The Brock Press‘ news editor and rides the 16 Brock-Glenridge.